We wrapped up our travels in Hawaii with aquatic life, and I stumbled upon some great tips for choosing a whale-watching tour no matter where you are. First and foremost, please remember you are getting the lucky opportunity to spot these creatures in their natural environment and you should never do anything to put them in jeopardy. Before making the pick, ask yourself if the tour operators are putting the animal first and not making any promises (i.e., money-back guarantee) that could cause them to take unnecessary risks. In addition to doing your research (and asking for recommendations), consider the following questions:

  • Why are they doing this? Check the training of the crew members – you're there to learn and it's important to know about their training, study, research participation, and length of experience observing whales before you set sail.
  • How much time do they dedicate? You'll want to book a trip that brings the whale watching front and center. It's a good sign when the company actually works in whale research year-round and makes that the primary focus of their business – and not just making it a seasonal alternative to a diving or cruise business.
  • See a couple more when you


  • How will you share the space? It's important to know who you'll be traveling with (check for maximum passenger loads). You'll want to have the room to move around and take pictures as well as picking a legit company that is respectful of the animals and guidelines in place, and not just promising the closest glance you'll get.
  • What features does the boat have? Check the price compared to the length of the trip, any included items, and boat features. Many recommend catamarans equipped with hydrophones to hear the whale song while onboard.